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About this Poem 

"Central Florida in the ‘90s—tourists in mouse-ears and Benny Hinn preaching on TV, the culture stifling as the heat. Even at dawn, the only coolness was the dew on the grass, the just-cut blade-tips painting my ankles as I walked to the dock. Despite nails jutting from the boards like punji sticks, I bellied my way to the edge and perched my book above the water: The Dream of a Common Language. I read and reread the central section of ‘21 Love Poems’: ‘without tenderness, we are in hell. two people together is a work / heroic in its ordinariness.’ Two women together, two writers. Though I had sought lesbian life in other texts, all those I’d found centered around sex alone, around lonely lives in which I couldn’t—didn’t want to—see myself. And then came Adrienne Rich and her poem ‘(The Floating Poem, Unnumbered).’ Sex, yes, but sex held fast by love. A promise that being queer didn’t have to mean a life scrabbling in shadows for transitory pleasures. A promise that beyond the constricted world I knew at fifteen, I might instead inherit a future in which I could live and love in full daylight, that  ‘whatever happens—this is.’”
Jessica Jacobs

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Twenty-One Love Poems [(The Floating Poem, Unnumbered)]

Whatever happens with us, your body
will haunt mine—tender, delicate
your lovemaking, like the half-curled frond
of the fiddlehead fern in forests
just washed by sun. Your traveled, generous thighs
between which my whole face has come and come—
the innocence and wisdom of the place my tongue has found there—
the live, insatiate dance of your nipples in my mouth—
your touch on me, firm, protective, searching
me out, your strong tongue and slender fingers
reaching where I had been waiting years for you
in my rose-wet cave—whatever happens, this is.

"Floating Poem, Unnumbered" from “Twenty-One Love Poems," from The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977 by Adrienne Rich. Copyright © 1978 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

"Floating Poem, Unnumbered" from “Twenty-One Love Poems," from The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977 by Adrienne Rich. Copyright © 1978 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich

The author of numerous collections of poetry, Adrienne Rich wrote poems examining such things as women's role in society, racism, politics, and war.

by this poet

poem
First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a
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poem

I wake up in your bed. I know I have been dreaming.
Much earlier, the alarm broke us from each other,
you’ve been at your desk for hours. I know what I dreamed:
our friend the poet comes into my room
where I’ve been writing for days,
drafts, carbons, poems are scattered everywhere,
and

poem

 

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